2017-18 MLB Free Agent Power Rankings – MLB Trade Rumors

About 24% of the MLB regular season is in the books.  The Astros, Yankees, and Nationals currently reign supreme.  Familiar names Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Chris Sale top the WAR leaderboards.  Though we’re only in mid-May, there’s a subset of players who can’t help but look ahead: those eligible for free agency after the season.  Here, we attempt to rank the projected free agents based on their earning power.  For the full list of 2017-18 MLB free agents, click here.

1.  Yu Darvish.  Nine starts into his season, Darvish is not quite in vintage form.  His 2.76 ERA ranks 11th in the American League, though strikeouts are down and walks are up.  The key stat might be his 58 2/3 innings pitched, good for a second-place tie in the league.  Darvish’s second career 200-inning campaign would quiet concerns after his 22-month Tommy John layoff, possibly leading to the largest contract of the winter.  In the short term, the question is whether Darvish will be traded this summer.  The Rangers have climbed into the Wild Card discussion with an eight-game winning streak, though they’re already eight games behind the Astros for the division lead.

2.  Johnny Cueto.  In the early going of 2017, Cueto has posted his worst ground-ball rate since his 2008 rookie season.  He’s allowing home runs twice as often as last year and also has an abnormally low strand rate, leading to a 4.50 ERA.  I think his numbers will be fine in the end, and he’ll opt out of his remaining four years and $84MM.  The Giants may attempt to extend Cueto prior to that point, or they could wind up trading him this summer.  The slow-starting club already faces an uphill battle to reach the playoffs.

3.  Jake Arrieta.  As Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs put it

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